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Understanding Your Monthly Breast Exam

Last updated 2 years ago

Even though you visit your OBGYN for annual check-ups and breasts exams, it’s still important to perform breast self-exams on a monthly basis. By performing exams on yourself once a month, you’ll become familiar with your breasts’ appearance and feel. Then, should a change occur, you’ll recognize it right away and be able to seek immediate medical care to have the changes assessed.

When to Perform Your Exam

The best time to perform your breast exam is a few days after the end of your period. Breast tissue is less swollen and tender during this part of your menstrual cycle. If you do not have a period, pick a day during the month and perform your self-exams on that same day of each month.

How to Perform Your Exam

When performing a breast self-exam you need to both look at and feel your breasts to determine if there have been any changes to your breast tissue:

  • With the assistance of good light and a mirror, look at your breasts while your arms are by your sides, firmly on your hips, and lifted over your head. Search for signs of puckering, dimpling, changes to the shape or size, and redness.
  • While lying on your back with a pillow or towel under one shoulder, use your opposite hand to feel the tissue of your breast in a set pattern. You can use a spiraled circle pattern, an up and down pattern, or a wedge pattern to perform your exam. Then, switch sides and repeat the same exam on your other breast. You should also complete this exam while standing up in the shower.
  • During your self-exam, you should check your nipples for any changes or discharge. Don’t forget to check your upper chest and armpits, as these areas also contain breast tissue.

If you notice any changes in the look, feel, shape, or color of your breasts, seek the opinion of a medical professional right away. You can turn to the expert gynecologists in Arlington Heights offered at WomanCare if you have any concerns. We provide all aspects of women’s healthcare, including gynecology, prenatal care, and emotional counseling. Schedule an appointment today by calling (847) 221-4700.


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